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Bad day at the office as Pegasus and Quins lose ground

Belfast Harlequins 3 Pembroke Wanderers 4

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On attack: Pegasus ace Charlotte Beggs takes on Loreto

On attack: Pegasus ace Charlotte Beggs takes on Loreto

On attack: Pegasus ace Charlotte Beggs takes on Loreto

Belfast Harlequins' hopes of avoiding automatic relegation from the EY Irish Hockey League for the first time suffered another blow yesterday when they lost a seven-goal thriller to Pembroke Wanderers at Deramore.

On a disappointing day for the two Ulster clubs, Pegasus were beaten 1-0 by UCD at the Dub and have now surrendered top spot.

Quins, who went down 4-1 to UCD in Dublin on Saturday, remain five points adrift at the foot of the table with just four games left.

If there was a crumb of consolation it lay in the fact that nearest rivals in the relegation battle Railway Union also lost yesterday, falling to a 3-0 defeat against Catholic Institute.

"I suppose that was one saving grace, but it was a disappointing weekend for us, especially as Pembroke was one of the games we were targeting," said Harlequins captain Linzi Hamilton.

"We made a good start, going ahead, but it was disappointing to concede so quickly afterwards and then we had too much to do when we went 3-1 and 4-2 down."

Bethany Barr, back from a lengthy injury break, set up the opener after only seven minutes when she supplied the pass for Lucy Geddes to finish.

But Pembroke equalised almost immediately when Sinead Loughran deflected home a great ball in from Maebh Horan.

Seven minutes later, Gill Pinder scored a brilliant second, the Ireland World Cup star firing home after exchanging passes with Alice Ward.

Hayley O'Donnell made it 3-1 in the 27th minute from a penalty corner and Julie Dennison pulled one back from a similar situation with 19 minutes left.

Jill Ringland added Pembroke's fourth after being set up by Ward, with the home defence left exposed after squandering a set-piece at the other end.

Dennison again reduced the deficit with a brilliant solo effort with four minutes left but Quins were unable to find an equaliser.

At the Dub, UCD scored the winner in the 16th minute when Katherine Egan deflected in a right wing delivery and the students went on to boss the first-half as Pegasus failed to muster a single shot.

Despite an improved second-half display from Pegasus, the Leinster side held on for their narrow win, although former Ireland keeper Clodagh Cassin had to pull off a couple of smart saves.

Pegasus now trail Loreto, who beat Old Alex 2-1 yesterday, by three points in the standings.

On Saturday, a second-half winner from Alex Speers sealed a 2-1 comeback win for Pegasus over Loreto.

Hayley Mulcahy put the Dubliners ahead in the first-half against a misfiring home side.

However, Pegasus came out with all guns blazing after the restart and Speers forced a penalty stroke which Ruth Maguire converted for the equaliser in the 47th minute before the former Ireland captain netted a spectacular winner four minutes later.

Lizzie Colvin, who missed yesterday's game through illness, hit Harlequins' consolation goal in the 4-1 defeat by UCD, who are now back in top-four contention following a six-point weekend.

In IHL 2, Queen's promotion hopes disappeared with a 2-1 defeat to Monkstown in Dublin but Ards are well on course for the play-offs after Zara Malseed hit five of the goals in a 12-0 romp over Connacht side Greenfields.

Results: EYIHL: Yesterday: Cork Harlequins 0 Muckross 1, Catholic Institute 3 Railway Union 0, Pegasus 0 UCD 1, Belfast Harlequins 3 Pembroke 4, Loreto 2 Old Alex 1; Saturday: Old Alex 2 Catholic Institute 1, Pegasus 2 Loreto 1, Pembroke 3 Cork Harlequins 1, Railway Union 2 Muckross 1, UCD 4 Belfast Harlequins 1; IHL 2: Yesterday: Queen's 4 Greenfields 0; Saturday: Ards 12 Greenfields 0, Monkstown 2 Queen's 1, Corinthian 3 Trinity 2, NUIG 0 Cork C of I 3; Ulster Premier League: Ballymoney 5 Mossley 1, Banbridge 7 Raphoe 0, Lurgan 4 Dungannon 1, Randalstown 0 Lisnagarvey 2.

Belfast Telegraph